U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear Utah case over road claims on federal lands

Posted at 4:29 PM, Oct 13, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a petition by the state of Utah to hear a case involving road claims on federal lands.

The nation’s top court refused to hear the case in a decision issued Tuesday, in which the state acted on behalf of Kane County and asserted a “right of way” on roads going through federal lands. Utah’s petition centered around the authority of lower courts.

“This case seeks to resolve disputed title ownership to historic highways forged by those who long ago traveled West to establish homes and livelihoods, and that even today remain essential to state and local economies. The State of Utah and one of its political subdivisions request an answer to a basic and fundamental question regarding nearly 12,000 rights of way: Are they owned by the federal government? Or are they owned by the State under what is commonly known as ‘R.S. 2477,’ a federal law that granted ‘the right of way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses’?” the Utah Attorney General’s Office wrote in its petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tuesday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court means an opinion by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stands, which sided in part with the United States.

Kane County has another petition before the U.S. Supreme Court over road claims.

Read the court filings before the U.S. Supreme Court on SCOTUSblog.